How very cool – Adam Schell posted on Facebook:
Just got word that Michelle Obama is bringing Tomato Rhapsody to Martha’s Vineyard as one of her vacation reads. Sweet!
Flipping sweet! I knew that lady had taste. I hope this gets widely publicized and is a deserved sales booster.
Hmm… How does one go about suggesting a book for Oprah’s Book Club… ? w…w…w…dot…goodsearch…dot…com…
I never did write about going to see the wise and wonderful Mr. Schell in NYC for a signing at Borders… Yes, it was July 14 … Yes, I’m late for everything. Including the signing.
I left work a little early – and a little earlier than the little early I intended, because a coworker came in and advised as how I’d need to go – now – or not for a couple of hours. See, they tore up our street a couple of weeks before, ripping off the top layer of asphalt to make it fun for all. I had planned to leave at 3:00. When did they decide to start paving our street? 2:45. Amazing. I scooted just ahead of the trucks. Yes, I got a little lost because I couldn’t go my usual route, I’m pathetic… Anyway. Went to Dino’s to pick up an early dinner (poor Dino’s – local seafood place: not what it used to be), and then Sharon, The Kid, and I hiked off to catch our train.
I still would like to know why the train came to a dead halt somewhere in the woods.
So … when did they implement lines for cabs at Grand Central Station? We had no idea; we wandered out, saw a cab, waved, he pulled over, we got in, we pulled away – – and a second later there was a pounding on the cab roof over my head, and a cop jogging along on either side, both yelling at the cabbie. It took a second to realize they were yelling at him, not us – I would love a picture of our faces. Three of us: O.O On the passenger side was a black woman cop, who alternated between being very kind and gentle to the poor terrorized hicks and being very vehemently angry with the cabbie – apparently he’d done it before? Not that we knew what “it” was yet… She explained. There was a queue. Cabs pull up, people get in in the order they arrived. How civilized. How … late-making. It took about 20 minutes for our turn to come; we had about five minutes to get to the reading. Not too bad, I thought; I’d Mapquested. It was only a mile away.
Our cabbie was a little psychotic. I’m used to pressing the invisible passenger’s brake pedal; this went far, far beyond; at one point I sucked in a breath and braced for impace because there was a car about five inches to my left, and we were … bearing left … And during it all he never said a word. And then he dropped us off, pointed, and left. No, I didn’t give him a tip. It took us another ten or fifteen minutes and a walk around the block where he dropped us off to figure out where we needed to go. It was pretty funny, actually – I’d carefully touched up my hair and eyeliner in the cab. Fifteen minutes later we fetched up in Borders disheveled, sweaty (it was the first really warm day of the summer, of course), and at least half an hour late…
It was great. He said that although the book is about Italian peasants, the voices he heard in his head while writing the rhyming dialogue were those of Shakespearean actors, Cockneys – and then proceeded to demonstrate. I think we missed one piece, the second one was marvelous, and the third one was one of my favorite passages in the book. And it was lovely to meet him – and his wife and little boy (Asher – what a great name), though he nearly gave me a palpitation when he credited most of his inspiration to – – me? Oh. Wait. His wife and I have the same name. Got it. As is obvious from the book, he has a terrific sense of humor; when no one in the (happily pretty full) audience had a question for him, he asked himself one. Then complimented himself on an insightful question and gave a thoughtful answer. I hate it that I can never think of anything to ask… and you know the question “where do you get your ideas?” is knocking at the inside of my skull. May I never hunt again if I ever ask it.
On the train home, Sharon and The Kid got seats opposite each other over there, so I wound up next to a businessman over here, and soon realized I was trying to rhyme things. I went with it and got out my pen and a scrap of paper and started on something. I haven’t written a parody in a couple of years; this wasn’t a parody, but it was fun. (The man next to me was texting away, the man across the aisle was watching videos on his phone, The Kid was listening to her iPod, and I was scribbling illegibly with a ballpoint. I felt so low-tech.)
And here, for what it’s worth, is what I wound up with. Remember, it was a long train ride.
It was pure serendipity that I was one of the ones to get Tomato Rhapsody; there were several books I put my name down for, and a few hundred people had their names down for TR. Sometimes fortune just smiles.
And so, I left work early …
By the same brand of serendipitous luck,
I escaped just ahead of the town paver’s truck.
Five minutes more and I would have been stuck
In the company parking lot, muttering … “crap.”
(Two weeks now the road at our gate’s been a mess.
So when do they choose to pave? But I digress.)
On the train just past Bridgeport, the Kid made a joke
About Dementors on trains. She no sooner spoke
Than we came to a stop, and the lights and air failed,
And we sat for a while, dead on the rails.
Then we proceeded with no explanation
And no further excitement to Grand Central Station.
We jumped the cab queue at Grand Central, and were almost arrested;
We didn’t know of a queue! All right, so I jested,
But the cabbie was yelled at by two cops on the beat,
And we were ousted (politely) from our poached back seat.
An age or two later our turn finally arrived,
And off we were whisked on a hair-raising drive
Through rush-hour Manhattan, or close enough to it – –
And we came more than close enough to cars, other cabs, rickshaws, shoals of pedestrians, buses, limos, and street carts all the way through it.
We survived to see Time Warner Mall, multi-leveled,
Having flirted with death, a bit late and disheveled.
It was well worth the journey, I can honestly say,
To hear bits of the Rhapsody, in a mighty fine BFA*.
I wish I’d come up with an intelligent query
But I blame the cabbie for leaving me bleary.
Best of all was the passage of tears and laughter,
Which was a reason, for me, for all that came after;
One reason I knew I’d be rereading “TR”;
One reason it’s the best book of the year so far.
I’m delighted to give friends a book that so stirs
(When she’s halfway through college, the Kid can read hers.)
Who knows? Maybe this will be the shove that it took
For me to go somewhere quiet and finish my book.